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Nursing Education Systems of Ireland & Poland


What most of the people do not know is that the history of the nursing education is diverse, and of different origin in each nation. Across the world, different nations have different histories pertaining to the development of the nursing education. In light of the above suppositions, this essay seeks to compare the nursing education systems of Ireland and Poland, especially in the issues that pertain to their history, the government and nursing organizations that influenced their development, and their present statuses.

Political History and Development of the Nursing Education

In Ireland, the history of nursing and nursing education dates back in 1900s. The evolution began with the appearance of Florence Nightingale in Ireland. After the Crimean War that involved Ireland, Florence Nightingale began a research foundation to examine the causes of deaths (O’dwyer, 2007). When Nightingale completed her research, she instituted her first nurse training school in Ireland and began training nurses and matrons with new ideas that spurred the growth of professional nursing schools across Ireland.

The Polish nursing education also began in the 1900s, when the first nursing school appeared in Krakow (Sztembis, 2006). Initially, Poland was encountering a series of political partitions, national unrests, and instabilities. Unfortunately, the Krakow school collapsed in 1914, during the advent of the First World War (Sztembis, 2006). Majority of the graduates then opted to join the Polish army to work as civil sanitation officers. Later, the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Red Cross enhanced nursing education in schools.

Government and Nursing Organizations Influencing Nursing Education

The Irish nursing education often relied on the government and nursing organizations to expand. In the 1960s, the Irish government introduced an alternative nursing model that used college student nurses workers to replace the Nightingale’s apprenticeship model. According to O’dwyer (2007), the European Economic Community (ECC) then motivated the expansion of the nursing education. The nurse’s voices also echoed through the nursing organizations such as the Irish Nursing Organization, the Irish Matrons’ Association, and the Psychiatric Nurses Association. They highly promoted the nursing education.

Poland has also witnessed the contribution of the government and the nursing organizations in promoting the nursing education. After the Krakow School reemerged, Poland began to emphasize about the importance of the nursing education (Sztembis, 2006). The Polish government then instituted the first nursing department within its health ministry. In collaboration with the government, the Polish Nursing Association of Professional Nurses became member of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). They both enhanced the nursing education to extreme levels.

Current Systems of Nursing Education

Modern changes in Ireland emerged when its health ministry established a Commission on Nursing (O’dwyer, 2007). The government began the Commission to evaluate the essence of the traditional apprenticeship model and the college models. Currently, Ireland has university programs within the nursing education (O’dwyer, 2007). The Irish nurses get nursing degree programs in colleges and in universities. Nurses enjoy a balanced learning of clinical and theory practice for their first three years and enjoy their last year in the practical nursing fields.

Poland began modernizing their nurse training institutions since the early years of its development (Sztembis, 2006). The university education and the arrangements about the degree and diploma programs began replacing the ordinary post-secondary and college nursing certificates during the 1980s (Sztembis, 2006). Even before universities could fully establish, the government had already implemented the university-based nursing programs. To date, Poland uses primary, secondary, and university stages of nursing education.

Post-Graduate (Masters) Education

Masters education is still a new phenomenon in many nations. Ireland has been very slow in modernizing its nursing education. To make it worse, degrees are just recent to Ireland. According to O’dwyer (2007, p. 138), “the first cohort of graduate nurses began their employment in Irish hospitals in 2006.” It was until in the late 2010s, when the Ireland government preferred to offer Master’s degrees to the registered nurses (O’dwyer, 2007). Presently, Ireland has a growing Master’s degree program.

In Poland, history has been different. Post-graduate programs on nursing education began as early as 1980s, when the university-based nursing programs of 1970s motivated the government to recognize the essence of Master’s degrees. Sztembis (2006) explains that the initial essence of the Master’s degrees lied in enhancing local community health and improving the nursing research. According to Sztembis (2006), post-basic education such as the Master’s degrees is among the highest levels of the modern nursing education in Poland.

Conclusion: Reflections on Nursing Education in Ireland and Poland

A major historical concept that brings about certain uniqueness in the development of the nursing education in Ireland and Poland is the unique contribution of the hostilities of the First World War to the growth and development of the nursing education and practice. It is amazing how the two nations used the world war opportunities to establish strong foundation in the nursing education, the nursing practice, and the midwifery programs.


O’dwyer, P. (2007). Looking Back…Moving Forward: The Educational Preparation of Nurses in IRELAND. Nursing Education Perspectives, 28(3), 136-139.

Sztembis, B. (2006). The past, present and future of nurse education in Poland: stages, conditions, and activities. International Nursing Review, 53(3), 102-109.

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